Tag Archives: opportunity

April 2015, Market Analysis

April 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Back to The Seller Side

Yes, it’s true…the real estate market is turning back to the seller side of the sales equation in the secondary home marketplaces…good news indeed for Salt Spring Island & Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island owners.

On the Pacific Northwest Coast, which includes all Gulf Islands, including Salt Spring Island, plus Vancouver Island, plus Sunshine Coast, the secondary home/recreational/discretionary marketplaces are all definitely on the improve.


Inventory has “thinned” dramatically in the entry level priced residential segment. Slow sales in this price category, over the past 2 years, have quietly erased inventory backlog. Affordably priced undeveloped land is now beginning to sell as a result…buying land & building a cottage or choosing a manufactured home allows one to keep the budget at that entry level price point.

As inventory “thins”, prices stabilize. In some cases there are already small bidding wars.

Buyers who are able to increase their budget are starting to look at higher priced residential offerings, for more choice & potentially more motivated sellers.

For The Luxury Buyer In Salt Spring

For those able to consider a purchase in the luxury/upper tier priced property segment, there are still deals to happen, for a buyer. It may take until the Fall Market to see stability in pricings in the over one million category. Right now, this property segment is experiencing the uptick in interest & resulting lower offers that the entry level category experienced during the past two years.

I think when we arrive at late September/mid-October timeframe, we will see an even-handed recovery firmly underway.

I believe we are in the very last stages of a transition period, here, in our coastal region, between buyer & seller markets.

My definition of a buyers market: lots of listings & no buyers. And a sellers market? No inventory & lots of buyers. I think we are moving to that sellers market description.

It has been a long 7 years in all the secondary home/discretionary markets, & globally so. Some areas may even have experienced the “pause” 10 years ago. Within our overall coastal grid, places are never evenly busy.

British Columbia, An Undiscovered Coast

On this still relatively undiscovered Coast, we are always the tail of the dog. Now, however, we are seeing dramatic improvement…sales volume to date, for Salt Spring, has improved by close to 30% over previous year. Price stability has just begun…price increases may be on the horizon, but not just yet. This upward sales volume pattern is in evidence on the entire coastal rim.

Our discretionary area sales window runs from March Break through to Canadian Thanksgiving Weekend (mid-October). It remains a weekend business until mid-May, perhaps. Late June to late September remain the busiest sales months.

A seasonal marketplace once more on the move…plus, a lower Canadian Dollar against the U.S. currency…plus a general safe haven seeking in this turbulent global political & economic time of change…& the ability to live anywhere while working in the digital universe…it all adds to the general rhythm of uptick.

Salt Spring – The Allure of A “Caring Community”

The allure of a caring community is another attraction of the secondary home regions. An aging in place demographic, a strong community service volunteer group, a caring underpinning to the Island…this certainly describes exceptional Salt Spring Island.

Yes, it’s different than the flat conditions of the past 7 + years. However, there is always opportunity. The key? Recognizing it when it appears before you, and then acting on it.

An outcome of the global search is that it throws up a lot of surface information…& a lot of choice usually means slowness in action. The “have I seen it all yet?” syndrome. So important to listen for the “ping”. If a property lights up for you, then that’s the one to act on. It’s about listening to our inner voice.

I sometimes think searching property sites has become an entertainment feature…kind of like a 90s sitcom…look but not act. For an investment uptick, though (always better to buy on a rising market), now is the time for buyer involvement.

Continuing low interest rates are in favour of the buyer, for the time being.

Although inventory is thinning out in the affordable price segment, there are still creative ways to remain on budget.

Salt Spring Island Real Estate – An Appreciating Asset

An investment on a Gulf Island, including on Salt Spring Island, the largest & best serviced of this “southern” grouping, remains a good investment. Over time, a property purchase on Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands will build in value.

The Islands Trust put a cap on growth back in 1974…through strict zoning/density bylaws controls. Supply & demand is a factor in a Gulf Islands market, due to the Trust’s non-growth policies.

Enjoyment of a property is also a valid marker of value for a discretionary region. That enjoyment may include the ability to be self-sustaining. The benign micro-climate in our coastal environment makes this possible.

Yes, all markets are like a wave…up, down, up, down…never static. In real estate, it seems that the down never falls as low as the previous down. Thus, over time, a steady increase is consistently shown. On the rise, the fix & flippers start to reappear. Savvy ones are acting now.

Between 2000 & 2001, sales volume rose 50%. Between 2002 & 2005, prices rose 60%. A slowing trend took place between 2006 & 2007. Then the economic collapses of late 2008…now, at the beginning of April, 2015, we seem to be emerging back into 2002 times. Possibly we will look back & decide that 2010/2011 were the true flat bottom years in our discretionary area.

In change lies opportunity.

February 2015, Market Analysis

February 2015, Market Analysis – Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

The reminder from that savvy Ancient Greek, Heraclitus, that we never step in the same river water twice, is a thought to hold onto. As he noted, the only constant in life is change.

3-D printer, robotics revolution, driverless car…the word is out: humans need not apply. So, if the age of jobs is over, what next?

Is the age of travel also over? Violence is found in all places. Going out to buy bread or meet a friend for coffee can result in death by violence…a politically motivated person can take events into their own hands & too bad for you, in the corner of the cafe, minding your own business, with totally distant thoughts.

What did John Donne alert us to? Never send to ask for whom the bell tolls, for it tolls for thee? That, yes, & also the reminder that any man’s death diminishes us all.

So, as usual, the poets instruct us.

Cavafey, a recent Greek poet, reminded us that there’s no point in waiting for the barbarians to arrive…they are already here…they are us. Isn’t that the news that Pogo brought back from the swamp? I have seen the enemy & he is us?


Meantime, Voltaire suggested that we might want to just stay home & cultivate our own garden.

It’s difficult to offer specific outcomes in local real estate markets, when societal shifts of such a deep nature are in full swing. These societal shifts are shaping economic outcomes. Global rhythms shape specific regions…it’s called the global economy for a reason. No area is remote. The connectivity of the post-Internet world means the butterfly effect is in play.

A study of history, both far & immediate pasts, might be of some help when attempting an interpretive role.

When the Industrial Revolution exploded onto the centuries old agrarian lifestyle, it was a knife through an established & thus well understood pattern.

Today, technological innovation is slashing through the vestiges of the latter years of the 20th Century.

If you stand on the technology side of this shift, there is endless opportunity. If in the recent past…well…just read a George Eliot or Charles Dickens novel for some gloomier outcomes.



Big picture events colour our tiny lives. Within that frame, what does a move to Salt Spring Island, to a Gulf Island, to a Vancouver Island community offer?

Following Voltaire’s advice, a move to such rural coastal opportunities means experiencing community, means the ability to be self-sufficient, means the luxury of being slightly “apart”, without being isolated. These are safe haven venues. It is possible to be self-sustaining. More information? Call me!

Recent Salt Spring & Gulf Island sales appear to be predicting a shift from a buyers to a sellers market, in the secondary home markets. It is a slow but steady rhythm.

The tax assessments still reflect the past 7 year downturn. It may take until 2016 for the tax assessments to reflect recent sales volume uptick. Prices have not yet stabilized.

Thinning inventory will continue to highlight price stability…& possibly increases. The tail end of a transition period between market trends reflects both past & future, in the short-term.

Oceanfronts, oceanviews, acreages, building lots, residential, commercial, investment, recreational…varying types of properties, varying prices…your special property dream is out there, waiting for you.

I often find that the first two months of a new year follow the patterns of last two months of the previous year. Most sales have remained in that entry level residential segment. The spread between list & sale prices has been narrowing in this property segment…lower inventory encourages strengthening prices. Some recent sales in undeveloped land may also predict an uptick in a market. Sales growth in the upper tier priced residential market appears to be underway…price reductions at point of these sales remain dramatic.

The sudden collapse in commodities markets may have serious outcomes for the secondary home marketplaces. An Alberta buyer has been a traditional coastal purchaser.

It takes until mid-March to see the first aspects of a new year market take shape. March Break is the traditional beginning to the “season” on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands.

I usually write my market thoughts at the beginning of a month. Between early January’s “report” & now, we saw events in France plus a continuing crash in the commodities markets…societal & economic shifts together can deliver a “pause” to a discretionary marketplace.

It’s important to act prudently. Should one make a lifestyle move to a softer/gentler place, & live more simply, & slightly “apart”? Hmmm…. Decisions, decisions. In change lies opportunity.

How may I help you to buy your special property on Salt Spring Island or on another Gulf Island or on Vancouver Island? Please contact me…your best interests are always my motivation.

Looking for information about specific areas? Information about properties and opportunities? Call me! Benefit from my knowledge (of inventory & market trends) and from my expertise (experience counts!).

December 2014, Market Analysis

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

December 2014, Market Analysis

Market Shift? Hmmm….

Is this the market moment where we trend into a real estate uptick in the secondary home marketplaces?

What was that great rock song? Sign, sign, everywhere a sign, sign….

Signals of Change

Hmmm…lots of signs that we are slowly gliding towards sellers conditions in discretionary regions, including on Salt Spring Island & on the Gulf Islands.

The slow recovery for our coastal secondary home/discretionary regions began in late 2013. It started with entry level residential options…3 bed/2 bath homes, close to services/amenities, good rental accommodations. Perhaps most buyers in these early days were investor-buyers, not end-users.

As inventory slowly thinned out, prices began to incrementally stabilize, & this busier entry level sales segment continued to strengthen throughout 2014. End-users are now outweighing investor-buyers.

Initially, on Salt Spring, sales were mainly below $450,000…now, the bulk of such family home/residential sales are below $700,000. This rise in buyer willingness to seek properties in that higher price range is a good sign. It shows that buyers are less in charge of outcomes & that the seller voice is strengthening.

As inventory thins, we begin to see undeveloped land sales & building decisions…perhaps one can still come in on budget, & get what one wants, without having to pay to renovate? I’ve always thought that the start of raw land sales points to an upward renewal of a real estate market.

Since late Summer, we have also seen more sales between 1 & 1.8 million. This is a definite signal of an improving real estate market in a by choice area. The higher end discretionary buyers had ignored secondary home/recreational regions during the economic downturns.

Yes, price reductions were significant at the point of those few upper tier priced residential sales, but even that spread between list & sale is now narrowing…another sign of an authentic improving trend.

In late September/early October, there were two higher end sales: both waterfront properties had seen severe price reductions over a several years timeline, & both sold for substantially lower than those reduced list prices. In mid-November, a small bidding war occurred on another waterfront, also listed for a substantial timeframe & also seeing reductions over time…in the end, it sold close to that final list figure, & with more than one interested party. With just a scant few weeks between these sales, is this latter one the marker of change for the higher priced opportunities? Hmmm….

Over 2 Million?

To date, except for a large lakefront equestrian centre, there have not yet been sales over 2 million. There are a number of irreplaceable estate style properties listed between 2.4 & 8.2…all private, many are large acreages, most with exquisite homes, some waterfront & some stellar oceanviews. Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands are slowly returning to their previous position of global awareness, & we may see those international buyers returning to purchase these luxury style gems.

With ease of access to major centres, & yet wonderfully “apart”, & within the best protected boating waters in the world, these stellar Gulf Islands offer a delectable lifestyle and a protected investment opportunity.

Strengthening Prices & Time Differential

So: strengthening prices, less spread between list & sale, soft “bidding wars” for unique parcels, renewed interest in undeveloped land options & willingness to consider building new, plus beginning sales in the upper tier priced residential offerings…a return to sellers market conditions? Well, it’s certainly a strong transition period right now, & with a definite upward direction.

Does the Secondary Home Market Follow Fine Art Sales Patterns?
I look to the fine art market for further guidance. Recently, at a Christie’s auction, paintings sold for hugely more than expected. My anecdotal “thought”: secondary home real estate follows fine art sales patterns within 6 months. Hmmm…. With that script, we should see sellers market conditions in play in discretionary regions by May/June of 2015.

The recovery after the economic meltdowns of late 2008 has been slow in secondary home marketplaces, including on Salt Spring & the Gulf Islands, & it has not been even-handed.

As we enter December, it’s evident that there is a significant improvement underway in tourism & in real estate sales…which augurs well for the entire business climate on the Gulf Islands. Positive change, with an upward track, does now appear to be firmly underway. We may look back, in coming months, & see that 2014 was that important transition period in the discretionary regions. Stay tuned….

April 2014, Market Analysis

Here we are at the beginning of April, with Spring totally visible, & with a very encouraging consistent buoyancy finally appearing in the local secondary home real estate market. At last!

Our very seasonal Gulf Islands real estate sales market now takes place between March Break & Thanksgiving Weekend. March Break was the busiest I’ve seen it in almost six years. A very good sign.

A good foretelling …

March Break usually foretells the rhythm of the summer season. Yes, it’s still mainly active in entry level residential, but the action is steady & is clearing out a lot of inventory.

At this early moment in the sales cycle, the business always takes place in that entry level residential category. In the main, single family home properties listed between 300,000 & 600,000 catch the most attention…3 bed/2 bath, with rental options. Recreational cottage properties, even waterfronts, remain quiet. These buyers usually arrive later in the season…perhaps tied to the boating season.

As we continue along our market cycle, however, I think we will find sales volume occurring in all property prices & types, including in some undeveloped land opportunities.

I’ve always thought that raw land sales mark the turn into a true sellers market. Buyers are again willing to hold land as an investment, or to develop it? Then we’ve turned a corner into sellers market territory.

I think 2014 will be the year of total recovery in the secondary home marketplace, but it may take until late October to fully understand the dynamics…right now, we’re just at the beginning of the shift into better times.

Down markets have beginnings/middles/ends…transition markets also have beginnings/middles/ends…I think we’re at the end of the beginning of a transition between a down & an up market.

In a transition, everything is there at same time: price reductions, price stability, price increases…buyer insecurity & reluctance, buyer rush to secure a safe haven investment…downward worries, upward enthusiasm. It’s all swirling around at the same time.

Nothing remains down or up; a market is a wave pattern…the slide up the wave does seem to be underway, at last, in all secondary home/discretionary areas, & globally so. Two years ago, one couldn’t give away recreational retreat properties in Greece or Spain or Portugal. Now, these markets are hopping!

The Pacific Northwest Coast (including Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island & the other Gulf Islands) has always been the tail of the dog: last to go down & last to go up. Finally the uptick experienced in other discretionary regions has arrived here.

As this season progresses, then, we can expect to see consistent sales volume. As inventory decreases, with little new coming onstream to replace it, we will see price stability. This will segue into price increases as that good old economic axiom kicks in: the law of supply & demand drives real estate markets.

It may be that a seeking of a safe haven is the motivating force behind the interest in the Gulf Islands. The buyer profile may have changed, but the desire to own beauty, privacy, with proximity to major centres, combined with an easy apartness & a cap on growth (Islands Trust), all ensures that the Islands will always find their special & appreciative buyer.

There are many societal changes afoot, mostly as a result of the internet’s broad brush scrubbing through. The real estate industry has changed & continues to do so.

The treading water inaction in real estate sales, though, in the secondary home/rural marketplace, over the past five to six years, is over.

It will be very interesting to arrive at early November & look back at the pattern of this clearly shift year. We have just started our season & the good news is that March Break was busy! Let’s see what April & Easter Break bring….

The uptick is not uniform in occurrence, every property & area sells in its own time, but eventually all sellers will have the opportunity to sell. Buyer desire is back.

Should a seller sell? Might it make better sense to hold an Island investment, if possible? Hmmm…that’s definitely a sellers market quandary!

Buyers interested in a Salt Spring & Gulf Islands purchase are seeking the opportunity to enjoy that yesteryear lifestyle, with all the conveniences of “now”. The Trust’s zoning/bylaws to control growth, in place since 1974, mean limited inventory over time. That seems to spell protected investment.

In change, lies opportunity.

More information on current market trend & how you can benefit from it? Call me!

Your best interests are my motivation.

June 2013, Market Analysis

June 2013, Market Analysis

Here we are in June…the half way point in this oddly (to date) haphazard sales year.

In 2012, the majority of sales were in the entry level residential category, and sales took place right from early January. That was unusual, as normally March Break begins a sales pattern. A very few upper tier priced residential options did sell in 2012, but at markedly lower prices than sellers might have hoped for, and these were mainly waterfront choices.

Entry Level Residential Sales Remain Unchanged

To date, in 2013, this pattern of entry level residential sales remains unchanged, although sales did not begin to broadly appear until closer to March…a more typical action.

Galiano 2 Homes & 2 Docks

Galiano 2 Homes & 2 Docks

The bulk of sales remain in that beginning priced residential segment and, again, a very few upper tier priced residential offerings, still mainly waterfront choices, have found buyers.

Many of these waterfront sales, in both 2012 & this year to date, had been on the market for 2 to 7 years, had seen substantial reductions over time, & then received a further reduction at the offer point. In other words, the buyer was in charge of the process.

Price reductions of a substantial nature continue to come in, on a consistent basis, from some realty companies. This may have more to do with the need of that realty company to generate income to balance the very expensive outgoing costs of being in the real estate business.

Local Market Manipulation

Local market manipulation is a real thing, however, and all sellers have to respond to this in an effort to remain competitive in pricings…a series of reductions from one company will then, in the end, impact listings prices from all companies.

A very few undeveloped land options have sold this year, and that is a heartening sign. I always think that sales of raw land are a true indicator of an authentic real estate recovery in our kind of secondary home/discretionary marketplace. In a downmarket, the few buyers around are attracted by rental or income producing options…thus, raw land can be overlooked.

Our Gulf Islands sales window has shrunk to May to October. People may make offers at any time…chances are, though, that they viewed during this narrow timeline of physicality.

It may take until August to understand this year’s market pattern, as there are not enough sales yet to point to a trend. All we can say is that sales volume continues as in 2012, and that there are a lot of choices in residential offerings over 600,000.

Property Inquiries on the Rise

Inquiries do appear to be on the increase, and that’s a good sign! Physicality will follow. Some new listings, in the waterfront segment, are coming onstream at 2007 price points. That is also interesting….

The Gulf Islands form of governance is the Islands Trust. Created in 1974, with a mandate of “to preserve & protect” the environmental beauties of these islands, for the benefit of all B.C. residents, this Trust thus controls growth via severe zoning/bylaw restrictions.

So…sounds like limited inventory, over time, to me.

What’s Next?

As we climb out of the downturn that has gripped all secondary home markets since mid-2007, we will start to encounter a lack of inventory, based on this non-growth Trust stance…just as buyers are once again seeking places to preserve their capital.

Sounds like sellers market conditions are reappearing, in other areas. Multiple offers are being reported in busy primary residence regions. Hmmm….

Important to be paying attention to the shift moment, whether as a seller or a buyer, at this mid-way point between market trends.

Yes, very essential to know the past sales, but also important to recognize the uptick. Pricing by a seller & offered price by a buyer, at such a mixed time, are both needing extra thought.

So, the Gulf Islands (including Salt Spring) have bylaws that control/restrict growth. Plus the real estate market in secondary home/discretionary regions may be entering a recovery…in year 8 of an 8 to 10 year cycle? Buyers have again decided to act. The driver to buyer action may be a safe haven seeking…a hard asset purchase to preserve capital.

Prices have not yet stabilized, but this is just the beginning of our “season”…May to October…will prices be showing firming, by September? Hmmm….

The supply & demand rule is the marker of change.

Important to be paying attention to the “now”, and not to the flatness of the past 5 to 6 years. No rear view mirror reflections, then. We need to be looking ahead.

In change lies opportunity.

May 2013, Market Analysis


Recently watched a cable t.v. knowledge network style bio on a local game designer…he was one of a few game programmers/designers to be given new virtual tour equipment, to see what kind of game he could come up with, in using it. Wow! There’s the 21st century for you. A small town techie on a par with silicon valley style locations.

Beyond the “anyone anywhere can invent the future” scenario, though, lives (perhaps) the next great thing.

If within 2 to 5 years virtual reality will be seamless & everywhere, a guesstimate by this game designer, then why will we need real malls, real storefronts, real showrooms, real offices…already the retail world is moving online, the most recent recipient of that Internet eraser.

Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring Island

What will our world look like in 5 years, when this gamer thinks virtual reality will be mainstream?

Will we need real schools? Will we have offices seemingly “there”, but just virtual versions? Retail will be virtual? What will home designs look like?

Hmmm…ok imagineers, it’s change that brings opportunity. Time to be creatively thinking.

And specifically, as it’s my current world, what effect will virtual reality have on real estate marketing?

And your thoughts are? Always welcome!

Locally, our real estate sales window has now become May, June, July, August, September…with the reminder that the first three weeks of June are always quiet.

A short and intense timeline, thus. People search all the time & year round, so it’s important to “be there”, on all the internet opportunities. Otherwise, areas won’t be discovered…people won’t come. So, marketing is a year round business and physicality is a 6 month affair with 3 months being the busiest. Hmmm….

In 2012, we saw a substantial increase in sales volume in entry level residential options. In the main, sales were below 400,000…best described as investments, with rental potential. Prices were not stable and reductions continued, in that search for the bottom. A handful of sales in higher end properties, towards year’s end, in waterfronts, was perhaps a sign of a move back into authentic real estate investment in unique areas. Many of these offerings had been on market for 4 to 7 years, & in spite of reductions in price, en route, there were further reductions at point of the offer.

The first quarter of 2013 has been oddly flat in sales. It may be that a digesting moment is underway: concerns over currency instability, the perceived over-creation of paper monies, banks not easily lending, the Cyprus issue, the threat of terrorism in North America, the intermingling of inflation & deflation scenarios, the search for a safe haven, the desire for sustainability…it’s a mix of all things, and the bottom line could be a flight to hard asset investment as a way to preserve capital.

Safe Haven Investing is my name for it, and Salt Spring Island & the Gulf Islands are beautifully positioned to deliver on this requirement: proximity plus being “apart”.

In many U.S. States, real estate has become very buoyant, with approximately 40% of sales to international buyers. And they are mainly cash sales.

I always feel that our area follows such statistics within 4 to 6 months. Thus, we may see this rush back to property by late July/early August…and there is not a large inventory of listings, as soon as one prioritizes type & price. Hmmm….

Treading water in May/June is perhaps a good idea. The trend for this year is just developing now.

If needing a sale, perhaps try to hang on till mid-July. Things are just starting to clarify.

If a buyer, an alert that the buyers conditions of the past 4 to 5 years may almost be over. These weeks may be the last time to discover a good residential offering at a price that recognizes the buyer point of view.

In either case, change is underway & is happening right now.

Hmmm. In change lies opportunity.